With hurricane season upon us, now is a good time to think about how to mitigate flooding and the high costs of flood insurance. The Community Rating System (CRS) accomplishes both of these goals. The federal government has incentivized communities in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to reduce flooding impacts and reduce flood insurance premiums for its residents. A win-win!
The CRS is a voluntary program that rewards communities that implement floodplain management practices. The CRS point system is weighted towards non-structural strategies, such as land use planning, zoning ordinances, open space conservation, building codes, and flood warning systems – activities that many municipalities are already actively implementing. With 19 floodplain management categories, communities can earn points which will reduce insurance premiums for all NFIP policy holders from 5% to 45%.
Getting started is as easy as 1-2-3:
1. Inform your FEMA Regional Office of your interest
2. Ensure you are in full compliance with NFIP
3. Submit a CRS application
This is a paperwork heavy process, so here are some tips to make it go more smoothly:
1. Designate a staff person or outside consultant to take ownership of the process and serve as the lead contact for agencies. The CRS program is a long-term undertaking and ensuring that there is documentation at every stage is critical for success.
2. Do an inventory of existing local programs, regulations, and policies that can easily be applied for certification credit. The Quick Check template is a useful assessment tool. Many state regulations and policies provide additional credit for municipalities seeking certification. Reach out to your state to connect with additional resources around these topics.
3. Don’t try to get all the points at once! Identify a baseline and develop a timeline for implementing additional strategies. The program has re-certification requirements, and points can be added as new activities are initiated.
4. Develop a relationship with the ISO (Insurance Services Office)/CRS Specialists responsible for reviewing community requests for CRS classification and verifying implementation.
5. You are not doing this alone, there are likely neighboring communities that are in the same process and can be resource for you. CRS User Groups have been organized to facilitate this process that can be state, county, or even neighboring community based.
6. Use the many resources online, including floodsmart.gov, crsresources.org, and fema.gov.
FEMA published a list of communities that are in the NFIP program and are eligible to participate in the CRS program, is your community on the list? You can check here. You may be surprised at the flood insurance reduction for which you already qualify for!